Why do house sales fall through? A seller’s guide

Why do house sales fall through? A seller’s guide

Offerhive Offerhive 18th January 2021

When you are selling a property, the sale can fall through for various reasons, from a buyer having trouble securing a mortgage to them simply changing their mind. In Scotland, once an offer has been made, it becomes legally binding, however, in England and Wales, until a buyer reaches the point of exchanging on a property, they are able to drop out of the sale at any point. 

This article will take you through what could cause your sale to fall through and the options you have if you need to find a buyer quickly.


Mortgage issues

mortgage loan denied rejected

Issues with mortgage approvals can easily cause a buyer to drop out of a sale. There are two main problems a buyer could face with their mortgage:

Mortgage offer fall-throughs

Changes in circumstances or a mortgage expiring can mean a buyer no longer has access to the funds required to purchase your property. 

Seller’s Tip: Ask the buyer to provide evidence that they have the finances arranged before accepting an offer.

Down valuing

Mortgage lenders may “down value” a property if they deem a property is worth less than a buyer has offered. According to research from Bankrate UK, 46% of UK properties were down valued since the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020. Down valuations could result in the buyer needing to renegotiate the price of the property, delays while the buyer tries to find the remaining cash elsewhere, or a risk of losing the sale altogether. 

Tip: Valuing a property accurately will prevent delays and fall-throughs on the property sale.


Changing circumstances

house sales decline

Causes for uncertainty, such as Brexit, general elections and the coronavirus pandemic have had an impact on the confidence of buyers in the property market. Unexpected changes to circumstances could cause a buyer to change their mind about a purchase. When these circumstances are personal, you may be able to find another buyer in a short space of time, but when there are changes to national circumstances, such as the pandemic or economic challenges, buyers may put off a purchase until the circumstances have begun to improve. 


A property chain break

row of houses for sale sign

A property chain occurs when there are multiple buyers and sellers in a line of transactions, where each transaction along the line must occur for the purchase of each property to conclude. 

So, what causes a property chain break? When a buyer at the start or middle of the chain pulls out of a property sale, there is a break in the chain. This could mean other sellers in the chain are dependent on one person finding a buyer before the rest of the party is able to complete a sale.

The time it takes to get to the exchange stage of a property purchase can take around eight weeks, when there is no chain, however, in a property chain of two or three houses, the process could take 12 weeks or more. If the parties in the chain are delayed for a period, possibly for months, mortgage offers could expire or situations could change, causing a buyer to drop out of the sale. For sellers struggling to find a buyer, this could result in the loss of purchasing your dream property if a chain-free or cash buyer comes along and makes an offer on the house you are interested in.

Tip: If your property is chain-free, use this as a selling point to draw in buyers. 


The process is taking too long

bored estate agent house for sale

When buyers have to wait a long time to buy a house that they have made an offer on, it could cause them to look elsewhere. There are plenty of factors that could cause delays in the property sale, such as missing documents from a disorganised seller, holdups from third parties carrying out surveys and returning information, or even a conveyancer forgetting to complete necessary paperwork.

One of the biggest causes for delays are property chains. Something as simple as one missed phone call or an unsigned document somewhere in the chain can cause delays for everyone involved. If a number of these issues are occurring in a property chain, these small delays can add up and there is a greater risk for one of the buyers to drop out of the sale.


Issues identified in a home survey

close up on cracked house corner

A house survey is a professional inspection of a property’s condition, identifying anything from cosmetic issues to major structural problems. Newer homes are less likely to present many problems, whereas older and poorly maintained properties could have costly and off-putting problems.

You can identify structural problems by:

• Uneven or springy floors

• Bulging or leaning walls

• Cracks to the interior or exterior of the property

• Issues with damp, even after damp proofing

• Rot to timber or woodworm

• Leaking roofs

• Invasive roots

Major issues, such as a roof that needs a lot of repairing or faults with walls and ceilings, can cause a buyer to renegotiate the price or pull out of the sale completely. Even if a buyer is willing to take on the project of repairing the property, mortgage lenders may be unwilling to give them a mortgage as it is considered a risk.

Tip: If you suspect or identify potential structural problems with the property you are trying to sell, get advice from a builder or property surveyor to help you to understand the costs of the repairs. You may decide to repair the property before selling or price your property accordingly to ensure buyers know what to expect from the property up front.  


How to prevent fall-throughs

organised documents in office

Organise documents

Ensure you provide all the necessary documentation about the property to prevent issues and delays further down the line. You will also need to ensure the buyer has the necessary documentation for the sale, such as proof of funds for the deposit, a mortgage promise or approval, details of solicitors involved, and proof of identity. 

Create a full list of all the relevant documents you will need and contact your solicitor and estate agent to help you to obtain anything you do not have to hand.

Chase all parties throughout the process

As mentioned, delays could lead to a buyer pulling out of the sale. 

If you are in a property chain, make sure your conveyancer and estate agent are made aware of this, so that they can help with chasing others involved in the property chain. 


Finding a new buyer quickly

selling house with estate agent handing over keys

If the sale of your property falls through, you may have to wait a long time before finding a new buyer. When you have found the home of your dreams and you are dependent on your house selling, you are at risk of losing that property. You might need the cash from your property quickly and can’t afford to wait any longer. Whatever the reason, if you need to sell your home fast, you may think that waiting and drastically underselling is the only way to achieve this, but there are simple and secure ways to sell your home for a fair price.

With Offerhive, you can get an offer on your property within 72 hours and you will always be given the highest offer possible from the beginning. By selling your home to one of our Property Buying Partners, the process is swift, simple and secure. You don’t have to worry about property viewings, fall-throughs or long delays. Plus, you will have the support of a trusted and certified estate agent to take you through the process. Find out how it works and request an offer on your property today.


Get in touch today 

Worried your property sale may fall through? Request an offer today to find a buyer for your home.





Update Cookies Preferences